Leadership Lessons from Zach Braff and Kickstarter

April 26, 2013 — 1 Comment
He made another $4,000 while I wrote this post.

He made another $4,000 while I wrote this post.

Two days ago, Zach Braff started a Kickstarter campaign. As of the time I’m writing this, he’s raised $1,753,503.

He’s made almost a million bucks a day. I’m watching the amount of pledged money increase while I write. It’s amazing.

For those who don’t know who Zach Braff is, he played John Dorian, or JD, on the TV show, Scrubs. I remember laughing out loud throughout the first episode of the show that I saw. “I have to watch this series,” I resolved, and bought the first season on DVD as soon as possible. I was an instant fan.

It’s debatable, though, whether Zach is better known as JD from Scrubs or as Andrew Largeman from the first movie that Zach wrote and directed, Garden State. Either way, through his involvement in Scrubs and Garden State, he has accumulated a gargantuan following of dedicated, Indie fans. For example, he has over 1,000,000 Twitter followers.

But Garden State came out in 2004. And a ton of people (myself included) have been wondering why he hasn’t undertaken anything significant recently.

In his Kickstarter video, he explains that if he wants funding from large financial backers for a new movie, he would have to give up a significant portion of artistic rights, and he wouldn’t be able to make the movie that he feels passionate about making.

Enter Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is still a relatively new idea in the world, but not so new as far as internet time goes. Essentially, anybody with a great idea sets up a plan and asks people for pledges to make their idea become a reality. They set a target financial goal and have an allotted amount of time to reach the goal. People then can pledge various amounts of money toward the project and they receive varying degrees of rewards for their pledges. Some of Zach Braff’s look awesome, by the way.

If the goal amount is not pledged by the allotted time, then nothing happens (and Zach is sad, according to his page). But if the goal amount is reached within the allotted time, then everybody who pledged their money pays their pledged amount at the end of the campaign. And the great idea is now funded to become a reality.

Zach Braff teaches us a powerful lesson about building trust as a leader.

When you earn people’s trust, you’ll be amazed by how much they are willing to support you.

Over the past decade, Zach Braff built up a following of people who love everything he does. These people trust him so much that some are willing to give him hundreds or thousands of dollars to support his next work, to be a part of his work, or to meet him in advance screenings.

People want to get behind something they believe in.

In a world where so many public figures are caught in scandal and fall from grace, building trust is essential. Continue to show up. Continue to do great work. Continue to be there for people when they need you.

And you’ll build a following.

And when you have a following of committed people, a tribe, you can mobilize people to do amazing, world-changing work.

What can you do today to build the trust of those who follow you?



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I'm a pastor, writer, speaker, husband, father, and follower of Christ, to name a few titles. You can find my contact information in my About page.
  • scrhill

    I have heard that the #1 reason people give money to an organization is a belief in the mission (whether the mission is education, research to cure diseases, another Zach Braff movie, or a church). This motivates me to remind my congregation about our mission each and every week, so they know where their tithes and offerings are going.